February 2017: The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) and the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) Potsdam have produced a guide and animated film that offer “strategic guidance and inspiration” for the responsible governance of tenure of land, fisheries and forest resources. Also with an emphasis on the global commons, a tranche of projects under the UN Development Programme (UNDP) Ecosystem and Biodiversity (EBD) portfolio were approved by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) in 2016, with the aim of optimizing conservation and development benefits from protected areas for countries.

In 2012, the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS) agreed on an international, human rights-based standard known as the ‘Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security’ (commonly referred to as The Voluntary Guidelines or VGGT). In order to support implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines, the IASS Global Soil Forum and FAO led a multi-stakeholder consultative process to gather practical experiences and lessons, which are documented in the guide, ‘Governing Tenure Rights to Commons.’ The Guide offers 12 interrelated strategies, seven illustrative case studies and methodological steps for national and local adaptation covering three key areas of action: the legal recognition and protection of tenure rights to commons; their effective implementation by states and rights holders alike; and the support of communities to enjoy their rights.

The UNDP published a collection of 25 stories titled ‘Voices of Impact: Speaking for the Global Commons,’ in October 2016 to commemorate 25 years of UNDP-GEF collaboration. The stories are featured in the inaugural edition of the UNDP Ecosystems and Biodiversity Newsletter, published in February 2017, which also depicts other efforts to protect some of the world’s most fragile and unique landscapes. These include the Daurian Steppe, which lies at the nexus of the Mongolian, Russian and Chinese national borders and is described as “the best and most intact example of an undisturbed steppe ecosystem,” and the dry dipterocarp forest ecosystems of southern Laos, home to the critically endangered Eld deer.

The Newsletter highlights a number of other UNDP EBD portfolio projects, which span more than 500 projects in 146 countries. They include a three-year technical support programme to develop and strengthen legal, policy and institutional capacities to plan and implement national Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) frameworks in 21 countries. The project aims to enhance mechanisms to build trust between users and providers of genetic resources and facilitate the identification of bio-discovery efforts, while also strengthening the capacity of indigenous and local communities to contribute to the implementation of the Nagoya Protocol of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

A second project, co-implemented by the UNDP, World Bank, UN Environment, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Conservation International, promotes integrated supply chain approaches to tackle the underlying root causes of deforestation. The project focuses on three agricultural sectors – beef, oil palm and soy – that together account for nearly 70% of deforestation globally.

Other ongoing projects include support for integrating the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and ecosystem services into coastal zone management as well as the sustainable development of tourism and physical development sectors in Madagascar. In addition, the regional ‘Transboundary Cooperation for Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Conservation,’ project aims to enhance coordination and south-south cooperation among the 12 snow leopard range countries under the Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection (GSLEP) Programme. It includes national projects in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. [UNDP Ecosystems and Biodiversity Focus Area] [UNDP Publication: Voices of Impact: Speaking for the Global Commons] [IASS Press Release] [FAO Guide on Governing Tenure Rights to Commons] [FAO Animation: Caring for Commons – Securing legitimate rights] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Snow Leopard Project]